As more parts of the world are “reopening,” people may be wondering how service could be different at a local store or restaurant. With this in mind, Yelp has made two major changes: the addition of a COVID-19 business updates section, and waitlist updates for restaurants. The features went live today and are meant to give consumers more information that will help them and staff stay healthy, Yelp said in an email.
Since late March, Yelp business pages have featured a COVID-19 banner in which businesses can communicate whether they’re temporarily closed, if they’ve adjusted their hours and how they’re operating. Now, the banner has been expanded to the “COVID-19 business updates section,” allowing businesses to share significantly more information. A business can post any updates to service, such as if it’s offering dine-in service, curbside pickup, or both. Businesses can also use the banner to inform customers of any safety measures they’re enacting, such as “enforcing social distancing, sanitizing between customers, mandating staff wear masks and/or gloves, providing hand sanitizer or contactless payment, and more.”
Yelp joins other apps that are making changes meant to keep users safe during the pandemic. Among changes Google Maps has added are alerts that show users coronavirus-related restrictions applicable to their route and a feature that helps healthcare workers find hotels. Uber is working on technology that would ensure drivers are wearing face masks. Instagram has tried to prevent the spread of coronavirus-related misinformation on the app by banning AR filters claiming to “diagnose” or “treat” coronavirus, and pointing users toward legitimate health resources.
Yelp’s waitlist feature has also undergone COVID-19 specific adjustments. If a restaurant uses a Yelp Waitlist Kiosk, customers can now use their phone to scan a QR code and join the waitlist instead of touching the screen. Customers can get a more accurate wait time estimate now that restaurants can manually adjust wait times during unexpected circumstances. Restaurants can also set a maximum seating capacity and will be alerted when the limit is approached or exceeded.
In March, Yelp committed $25 million in relief for restaurants and bars impacted by the pandemic. Its previous COVID-19-related updates included a “contact-free” delivery option on the app and GoFundMe donation buttons for small businesses.
Correction, 6/16/20 10:30AM ET: This story originally said that Yelp discontinued its GoFundMe donation button for small business. The company stopped the automatic rollout of the button, but businesses can still opt-in to use it if they wish. We apologize for the error.